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Virtual hugs and no conference chicken… #altc #altcSummit

Next week is ALT’s first summer summit and the first time since 2009 that I don’t spend this weekend packing up clothes, shoes and EVERY cable and charger in my study and make a 5 day trip to Edinuburgh, Manchester, Nottingham or this year London.

But just because I am not packing my suitcase doesn’t mean I am not preparing for what is promising to be a crazy and fun week!


Conferences are serious shoe business for some of us… and one of the real upsides of virtual events is that there is really no limit to the shoe tweeting you can do, combining all your shoes or trainers… after months of not having a real reason to dress up, I for one am looking forward to the opportunity to have a bit of fun and get back into conference dressing ๐Ÿ™‚


Having pizza the night before a big event has become something of a tradition in our staff team. I take the blame for that as it’s probably me suggesting it year after year… but it’s led us to have dinners in some very fun places over the years in different cities across the country!

So this year, we are tuning in to ALT Summer Summit Radio Show
at 7pm UK time on Tuesday, to join our very own online radio show in partnership withย The Thursday Night Show, hosted by The Thursday Night Show and ALT Members.

I have really fallen in love with online radio during the pandemic, so I am looking forward to hearing those sets and sharing some pizza with my colleagues, no doubt tweeting along a bit as well. The night before the storm that is the opening day of a big event… good company is key ๐Ÿ™‚

Not walking 10 miles a day

One characteristic of my conference trips is that I end up walking many miles each day, depending on the venue. On a normal day, it’s up to 10 miles. One of the reasons why I always wear flat shoes to events.

But this year it’s all virtual, so I have come up with a number of ways in which I am going to keep moving throughout next week: first up, standing up whenever I can, and I have a small standing desk for just that purpose. So I expect to gear up to the keynotes, panels and parallel sessions standing up at least.

Also, being online for 10 hours a day is tiring, so mornings and evenings are going to need some walking. Fortunately most of the evening social events such as Monday’s LTHEchat or the ALT Quiz on Wednesday I will be able to participate in from my phone, so… a bit of fresh air and movement is definitely on the cards. Er… and my excuse to not inflict my singing voice on the good folk from Reclaim Hosting as we are lucky enough to have the KaraOERke master Jim Groom host the show on Wednesday night.

Virtual hugs, but no chicken

One of the things I miss most about running face to face events is meeting people (and hugs, too)!. It seems distant, like another era entirely, but I miss it anyway and so I am going to make an extra effort to connect with both old and new colleagues. I am going to drop by the Summit Cafe, take part in Social Bingo… I am going to tweet along #altc #altcSummit… I am going to post word into wordclouds… say hello to participants, speakers and sponsors… I am going to revel in my community.

A community that has been through so much and kept going so long through this year… the year we all found out what a Learning Technology emergency looks like. An emergency which is now into months of duration and for which I can sense no kind of normal.

But despite everything (and thank you, A-level results day, for adding another layer of complexity to the chaos) and maybe particularly because of everything, I am really excited. Tired, too, but also inspired that a few hundred participants from the UK, Ireland, Canada, America, Sweden, Germany, Australia, Mexico, Uruguay… and many other countries have signed up for this ride.

I haven’t been to many virtual events that had real heart, but if OER20 is anything to go by, then this Summit should be a very special occasion indeed. It’s a milestone moment, championing everyone in Learning Technology, against a backdrop of bleakness and burnout.

It may be that you only get a virtual hug this year… and the dancing will have to be in your own living room. But there won’t be cold conference chicken and coffee should be excellent.

I am heartened by reading the blog posts and browsing through the programme that there is appetite for asking the hard questions, for sharing knowledge that will help meet the challenges of the next academic year… and that there is so much of our community at the heart of this Summit.

If you want to say hello and exchange virtual hugs, ping me @marendeepwell.

See you at the Summit #altc #altcSummit ๐Ÿ™‚